6 Tips For Lifting Heavy
Starting a new workout routine can be intimidating, especially if you’re thinking about throwing hundreds of pounds of weight over your head. Just like with any training regimen, lifting heavy weights requires serious time and effort if you want to see real gains at the gym.
Weight lifting is an incredible form of exercise that not only helps build muscle, but also burns fat, strengthens muscles & joints, and improves heart health.
Whether you’re a pro who’s looking to add a few more pounds to your bench press, or a beginner who’s just starting out, here are 6 tips that will help you lift heavier and smarter.
1) Set Goals
The best way to track your progress is to set clear goals and intentions early on. The more specific your goals are, the more likely you’ll be able to achieve them and improve your training! Defining your goals can also help you find (or create) unique programming that targets the specific areas you’re looking to improve.
For example, if you’re new to weight training, you may want to focus on simplicity and consistency. Find beginner-friendly, full-body programming that you can follow 4-5 times per week. This will help get you in the habit of weight lifting multiple times a week and will also begin to condition your major muscle groups. If you’re an experienced lifter looking to reset your training, try choosing a specific muscle group or movement that you’d like to focus on.
2) Form Over Function
Having good form is so important when it comes to weight lifting. Poor form can lead to unnecessary muscle tension, soreness, fatigue and oftentimes serious injury. When your form is off, you’re also more likely to use the wrong muscle groups when performing a new or complex movement, which can negatively impact your goals.
Whenever you’re attempting a new movement or adding more weight than you’ve lifted in the past, you should always practice the initial reps in front of a mirror, with a gym partner or with the assistance of a trainer. This will help you catch bad form early on so you can correct it before it becomes a habit. If you’re unsure of the proper technique for any movement, there are tons of online resources and videos that can help teach you proper form.
3) Start Slow & Controlled
We’ve all been there - you’re feeling good after a few heavy reps and now you want to see how much heavier you can go. But unless you’re an experienced lifter, skipping ahead of your programming or attempting to lift a heavier weight than you’re used to can actually be detrimental to your training.
Setting a slow and controlled pace at the gym will help steadily condition your muscles to handle more and more weight. It will also reduce your risk of injury.
When creating your programming, start with sets of simple movements at a medium weight that’s doable yet still challenging. Once you master your form and technique, continually increase the weight and layer in more complex movements. Typically, most weight lifting programs are anywhere from 8-12 weeks long.
Continue this week after week until you’re able to surpass your previous PR’s!
4) Prioritize Mobility
Any experienced lifter knows that your warm up and cool down are arguably more important than your actual lifting work out - and by “warm up” we don’t just mean a few lunges and arm circles. Mobility directly impacts your weight lifting abilities. Having a freer and wider range of motion allows you to more efficiently tackle weight lifting movements without harming your body.
A proper weight lifting warm up should be dynamic and supply blood flow to all major muscle groups and joints. Your warm up can consist primarily of body weight stretches, but we also recommend incorporating a mobility tool such as a foam roller, lacrosse ball, hand roller or massage gun.
Consider writing a 10-15 minute warm up routine that targets the key areas you know you’ll be focusing on that day. In addition to your major muscle groups, make sure you’re also moving your hips, wrists, ankles, and knees.
5) Fuel Your Body
You’ve probably heard the phrase “abs start in the kitchen” but the same idea can be applied to all major muscle areas. You need to give your body the healthy fuel and nutrients it needs to sustain any new training routine.
Here’s a helpful guide to what you should be putting back in your body after a weight lifting workout.
- Water - Make sure you’re drinking enough water. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends 12-15 cups per day.
- Protein - For anyone who works out regularly or maintains an active lifestyle, the recommended Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is about 0.7 - 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
- Caffeine - Having a coffee or pre-workout drink before hitting the gym has been found to increase performance and reduce fatigue. Try a cup of BuzzFit protein coffee 30-60 minutes before your workout to get an extra caffeine + whey protein boost.
6) Take Rest Days
Don’t underestimate the power of a rest day. After a full week of weight training work outs, your body needs a chance to recover. Rest days allow your muscle tissues to repair the “damage” done from lifting heavy weight, and helps rebuild your muscles so they’re stronger the next time you step into the gym.
Make sure you’re taking at least 1-2 rest days per week. Feel free to continue your mobility training on your rest days, or incorporate other forms of active recovery such as yoga or walking.